Three single mothers who started an alcopop-fuelled fight on a girls’ night out have been shamed by a magistrate for setting a ‘bad example’ to their five children.
Leanne Gilligan, 25, Nicola Cox, 30, and Samantha Hirst, 26, were arrested by police after they began tussling with three other women on a taxi rank pavement in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester.
The hell-raising group punched, kicked, spat at and pulled the hair of the victims during the 3am brawl, after one of the women was laughed at for being drunk.
One of the victims suffered black eyes and a cut to her thumb and a taxi was kicked causing £1,200 damage to the door panels.
It emerged the fight stated after the friends – all of whom live on state benefits – had been out for five hours during which two of them indulged in a Malibu, vodka and alcopop binge.
All later claimed the scuffle started after the victims attacked another woman arguing with her boyfriend.
At Tameside Magistrates’ Court, Cox, who lives in Oldham with her two children aged five and 11 admitted using threatening behaviour.
Cox’s younger sister Gilligan, 25, of Ashton, who has a young son pleaded guilty to assault and public order offences.
Hirst, 26, also of Ashton and who has two young sons admitted criminal damage and public order offences.
All walked free with 12 month community orders but chairman of the magistrates Susan Jones told them: ‘You are supposed to be mature, responsible women with families and you really just can’t behave like this in a public place.
‘I think all three of you realise now it was the wrong thing to do but this sort of behaviour frightens people in public places. It also sets a bad example to your kids. You would never want your kids to have to stand at a taxi rank and experience grown women on the floor. Take that away with you today and I hope we don’t see you here for that sort of thing again.’
The court heard the incident occurred on November 4 2018 after the friends booked babysitters to look after their children so they could go out clubbing.
A probation report read on behalf of Cox said: ‘They had been drinking from 10.30pm up until 3.30am and she was drinking Malibu and coke and WKDs and rated herself as eight out of ten in terms of intoxication.
‘Within the club there had been an incident with the victims and these three actually moved away from them as they felt that they weren’t being nice towards them. The friends went downstairs and continued dancing but when they did leave there was a man and a lady who were arguing and walking in the same direction as the taxi rank.
‘The defendants were giggling, laughing and joking because Samantha had stumbled into a car because of her level of intoxication. But the three ladies behind them also started laughing too. It also seems according to Nicola one of the three victims actually attacked the lady who was arguing with her boyfriend and the lady was kicked to the floor.
‘Nicola said that she couldn’t leave it so she shouted ‘what do you think you’re doing’? and that’s when the scuffle happened. ‘All she can remember is she was put to the floor herself having her own hair pulled.
‘She then got involved for her own self defence to get the lady off her. The scuffle was then broken up by a man who pulled a blonde lady off Nicola. Both parties where shouting at each other and the verbal abuse continued.
‘She accepts that the three girls are the ones who were attacked and it involved punching, kicking and hair pulling. It would have caused pain and scared them but she said that it also happened to her and her friends too. One of the victims caused her bruising to her eyes and a cut to her thumb. She said she should have called the police and apologises to the court for her actions.
‘She runs her own business but is on universal credit and is paying off school fines. She says she only goes out once or twice every couple of months.’
A report on Hirst said: ‘She had been out socialising and describes herself as very intoxicated consuming vodka throughout the evening.
‘She was unable to estimate how much she had drunk but on leaving the bar she fell over due to the level of intoxication. She says that the three women started to laugh at her so she shouted over for them to shut up.
‘She says she wasn’t particularly bothered about them laughing at her. She was just very intoxicated, very tired and wanted to make her way home. But she witnessed another female being kicked by one of the victims and went over to ensure the women that had been kicked was okay.
‘The situation deteriorated and she admits to trying to pull one of the victims off the top of Nicola Cox. Abuse was shouted by all parties.
‘She says: ‘”we where all shouting abuse, all got involved and are all equally responsible for the situation”. She expresses remorse and it does seem to be genuine.
‘The trigger to the events was the three victims laughing at her after that everything escalated quite quickly.
‘Since the incident she has reflected and has now reduced her alcohol intake when out and alternates drinking with water. When sober she is able to demonstrate good thinking skills.’
A report on Gilligan said: ‘There had been some contact with the three victims before they left as they weren’t happy with the way one of the women was dancing behind one of them. They moved themselves but when leaving they have seen the woman on the street being kicked and it prompted them to go over to see if they she was alright.
‘She said she hadn’t been drinking and doesn’t drink as she doesn’t like the effects of alcohol. There are occasions that she drinks but not a lot of alcohol. She said that the three victims were all assaulting her sister, Nicola Cox. One was sat on top of her, one standing on her hands and the other standing on her feet. She felt she had no choice but to go to the aid of her sister.
‘Things got out of hand very quickly but she can’t account for why and in the future she would now phone the police. She understands spitting isn’t acceptable and she describes it as disgusting and can’t say why she spat.’
Defence lawyer Simon Harrison who represented Cox and Gilligan said: ‘They saw an incident where one of the complainants is causing another woman to be knocked to the floor which was clearly the catalyst.
‘This is the reason why Nicola Cox says she went over. She would say she was being the good samaritan. Her instinct was to say I want to help this person who she felt was being assaulted.
‘Afterwards the incident moves to the taxi rank and an exchange between both groups. I have to accept they are the two main perpetrators of what happens afterwards. The ladies feel angry and aggrieved about what’s happened and Leanne Gilligan in frustration spits in the direction of one of the complainants. It is not the most mature response to what went on but what happened was in the heat of the moment.’
For Hirst, Angela Fitzpatrick said: ‘She was so intoxicated she fell over and lost her shoes and thereafter she has a very vague recollection of what happened. She had wanted to get home, she had had a drink and was tired and had lost her shoes.
‘She did get involved generally to assist Nicola Cox who received some injuries from that scuffle but she saw red.’
Cox was also ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work and pay £175 in costs and surcharges. Gilligan will also have to abide by a six week 8pm to 6am curfew and pay £50 in compensation plus £175 costs. Hirst was also ordered to complete 60 hours unpaid work, pay £100 compensation for the damaged car door plus £175 court costs.